There’s an old saying: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” In this archetypal American catch-phrase, there is much wisdom. It’s one thing to continue to “want” – that’s an entire energy signature all on its own, ripe with its own inward journey of self-evaluation. It’s another thing “to get”. The latter is a game-changer that forces growth, commitment, the courage to change, and the strength to support the very thing that we have worked so hard for.
I know many people who have worked their entire lives to reach one singular goal. And upon reaching this goal, the person in question seems a bit stunned. The fact is, they often times don’t know what to do with themselves, because their entire journey up to that very moment was – well – all about the journey. It was about the business meetings, the strategy of the investors, the struggle to create something brilliant against all odds. The entire process was about struggle, and who the person was able to become, through the struggle.
So finally, when The Universe and the person’s actions coincide, and the journey comes to fruition at the end, as the “goal” is achieved – the poor person who has developed a whole sense of identity around the “struggle” then must address: Who am I, if not the person who is constantly “trying”?
Human beings are very much like sharks. Sharks must keep moving in order to continually pass water over their gills — or they will drown. In the same way, humans must continually keep moving in their personal journey, or we will drown in a sea of lost identity. These forward movements in life don’t always need to be History Channel monumental – they could be mentoring a child through little league, or on the math team, or crocheting a baby blanket for a friend’s newborn. These forward movements could include going back to graduate school at 35, or building a shed in the back yard. No matter how big or how small, we, as a species, must always have a project. It’s the way we are designed. And when we achieve something that we’ve worked a long time toward, quite often, we aren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves after the fact. We then have a tendency to become slightly disillusioned with what we have achieved. I like to call this the “Day After Christmas Syndrome”. DACS is that feeling of let-down we get after being so pumped up for so long about one singular event. Once the event is over – blah — we’re staring at a wet, bleak January.
How many times have you known a friend who was romantically infatuated with another person, only to lose interest in said person once they actually started dating them? Once the journey of the chase was over – once the moments of self-exploration had passed—the actual maintenance of the relationship was a bore. Welcome to the human condition.
It is incredibly important, however, for we as a species, to strike a balance with the fact that we, like the shark, must keep moving. Our own need to connect, nurture, and measure our life path through small or even large achievements, are markers through this “movement”. In order to document our journey in a way that we understand, we must fully understand our addiction to struggle. I say “addiction” because that would then indicate something that we have a compulsion to partake in, past our better judgment.
The person who lights up a crack pipe, and inhales the chemical burn that feels like glass all the way down their throat, isn’t sucking on that smoke because it feels good. They are doing it because their physical compulsion to smoke that drug overrides everything they know is a bad idea. Spiritually, we become addicted to the rush of struggle. Though human beings boast that we want peace and quiet, what we immediately fall prey to is drama, unrest, and testing boundaries. Why? Because we understand all-to-well what struggle feels like, and we tend to gravitate to what we know, because we fear change. While we are in struggle, we are in a familiar zone in which we really don’t have to make any decisions, because we are too busy being in crisis.
Humans rarely trust themselves, especially to make long-binding decisions. As such, we will find any reason possible to get out of committing to almost anything. Usually, the two driving factors that “seal the deal” in any given situation that demands commitment are either 1) money, or 2) sex. The latter was a big motivator to drive the legal marriage of two adults in the Christian community – you wanna make whoopee? The commit, and go get some. Does your employer want you to stay at the job? Then they will give you a raise. Our human commitment, at first, often needs to be bartered for. Once we are in the situation, thankfully – the human heart takes over, and typically, compassion trumps fear.
Yet in order for our heart to take over, we must make an effort to come out of our relationship with struggle. As long as we can stay distracted on the drug called Struggle, we don’t have to address some of our more pressing spiritual matters, like insecurity, loneliness, fear of rejection, fear of failure, or any other garden variety human fear. We are often so “high” on Struggle that we wouldn’t know an opportunity if it fell onto our head like a piano. And like a non-treated drug addict, who lets opportunities, jobs, and even their families fall away, those who cannot come to grips with their addiction to Struggle will never be able to pull themselves out of that ever-present spin-cycle of chaos that an entire “Jerry Springer” franchise was built upon.
Not all struggle is a bad thing, obviously. Healthy struggle is also a learning tool. Through struggle comes great growth by overcoming obstacles that are put in our path — obstacles whose design is to “work out” different spiritual muscles throughout our spiritual bodies. Babies must struggle to walk, and it is this struggle that develops the muscles in their legs that will carry them for a lifetime. It’s when the struggle becomes the journey, not an impasse, that the imbalance creates a problem.
So it is that we often freeze in the moment right after we receive something we have always wanted. We feel the energy of Struggle, our faithful companion, slip to the background as the energy of Achievement takes its place. However – we often times don’t know Achievement as well as we know Struggle, and as such, aren’t as quickly to develop a relationship with it. Because let’s face it – humans are afraid of change, and as discussed, rarely trust themselves.
So here is poor Achievement, standing right in front of us in our moment of glory, wanting to give us a great big hug and welcome us to a new chapter in our journey — and we simply stare it in the face, like a zombie on valium. Poor Achievement is wanting to take our hand and show us all around this new section of our own inner domain that we didn’t entirely know existed until we’d recently gained access to it – through Achievement – yet we dig in our heels and make excuses why we can’t go on the tour within ourselves. As if on cue, our cell phone starts firing off in our pocket, nonstop, and we look down to see “Struggle Calling” on the screen. We push ignore. Achievement is very confused, and pulls us to the side to ask: “I thought you wanted to meet me!”
We answer, “I did too. But…you’re not what I expected.”
Achievement looks as us, puzzled, and says, “Well what did you expect?”
This is where we shift from foot to foot, because we don’t want to hurt Achievement’s feelings. “Well…I thought you’d be bigger.”
“I don’t understand,” says Achievement. “I’m just as tall as you are.”
“Yes, but…I thought you’d me more impressive.”
“I don’t understand,” answers Achievement. “You were impressed enough to make me.”
“Yes,” we answer, “but I thought there would be…I don’t know. More.”
Achievement just looks at us, quietly, in a studious fashion, and finally speaks. “More fanfare? More fuss?”
“Yes!” we proclaim excitedly. “More prestige, more respect, but…everything is the same. The only difference is that you’re here now.”
“So,” Achievement muses, “You thought that once I arrived, I would change everything?”
“I guess so, yes. But nothing seems to have changed.” Our phone begins to fire off on our pocket again. We check it – “Struggle Calling”. We hit the ignore button.
Achievement sits down on the second step of a grand staircase where it’s been attempting to lead us upward. “Hmm. It looks like you’ve created quite a problem for yourself.”
Now we are the ones who are confused. “Come again?”
“Well, you worked so hard to create me, thinking I would change everything. Yet how can I bring change if you won’t accept me?”
“I didn’t say that I wouldn’t accept you –“
“Yes, you did,” Achievement interrupts. “You thought I’d be bigger. More impressive. You won’t even let me take you on the tour of this wing of your own inner mansion, even though you own it, yet have never been through a majority of these glorious spaces inside of yourself, because you gave me the keys, and told me not to let you in until we met –“
“—and until I’d earned it,” we suddenly recall the conversation, much to our chagrin.
“That’s right,” answers Achievement. “So – you’ve created me, you’ve given yourself permission to access all these beautiful rooms inside of yourself now – there’s a spa on the second floor, by the way – but you won’t step over the threshold.”
“Yes,” we mumble, “that’s kind of a problem.” Again, our phone begins to fire off. We check it – “Struggle Calling”. This time, before we are able to hit the ignore button, Achievement snatches the phone from our hand and answers, much to our horror.
“Hello, Struggle? …Yeah, it IS Achievement, what’s it to you? …No, you listen to ME. Stop stalking this person. They’re done with you, and they’re with me now. They don’t need you anymore, and when they do, I’m sure you’ll get a call. We are about to go on the tour, so BUG OFF!”
Achievement hangs up and hands the phone back to us. We are red in the face, and our voice is feeble. “Um, I don’t know who that was…”
“Oh, of course you do. Everybody knows Struggle. It won’t bother you again. At least for awhile. Now – are you going to accept that I can’t change anything, until you accept everything?”
Now our “commitment” button is being pushed. “Excuse me? What are you talking about — accept everything?”
Achievement sighs. “Yes, everything. Accept that everything has always been right at your fingertips, right at your control – your happiness, your well being, your own access to all the secret floors inside of yourself, in your own mansion– you already had access to everything, but you wouldn’t let yourself experience any of it because you were always distracted by calls from Struggle, and you thought you needed my permission. But you don’t need my permission, which is why you weren’t impressed when you met me. You knew, deep down, that you don’t need me for any of this. You are the power of You. I am only your Achievement.”
For the first time, we feel badly, because we realize the pressure we’ve put on our Achievement. “Wow. I’m so sorry. I’ve treated you very unfairly. You can never live up to being something that would completely transform me.”
“No, I can’t,” says Achievement sadly.
We take a moment to let this sink in. “And I have to tell you — I’m really, really proud of you.”
Achievement starts to beam again, “You are?”
“You bet I am! Look at you – you’re smart, you’re determined – you make me very, very proud.”
“Thank you,” says Achievement. “That’s my job. To make you proud – of yourself.”
“In fact, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend an afternoon at the spa with – so what say you show me that second story in my mansion, and we celebrate?”
Achievement smiles, and we all head upstairs. “I’m very good at celebrating! Congratulations again, and it’s so nice to spend time with you!”
As we climb the stairs, we realize that we should deeply value the gift of the time we get to spend with Achievement, because it will be brief. We realize that our friend can only stay with us for a little while, and will leave us later with a smile, in our own mansion, alone with the power that is us.
When we finally come to the completion of a project cycle, of a work cycle, even of a relationship cycle, and we achieve something we have always wanted, it is paramount that we ACCEPT the transitions in our life that come along with moving onward, and upward. It is an important rite of passage in our spiritual and emotional development to receive our transition with grace. This movement does not invalidate our former struggles, nor does it remove us from our former life, into a life we know nothing about – unless a person wins the lottery, and even then, the quality of life is up to the winner. The movement must contain permission we give ourselves to accept that there is more to our existence than struggle, and that we can handle the responsibility that comes with lovingly managing what we have always wanted. Our movement forward is that of a shark:
We must keep swimming, or drown.